The PSNI were unable to publicly reveal at short notice whether there has been a spike in racist attacks in the Upper Bann area.
Following allegations by UKIP Councillor David Jones that racist attacks on local people by foreign nationals is on the rise, the PSNI said ‘all hate crime is a serious matter’ and there had been a 33% drop in reported hate crime in the council area over the past year.
Cllr Jones said: “People always assume racist attacks involve attacks on migrants but that is far from being the case. In fact, an emerging situation is exactly the other way round. There has been a steadily growing problem of racist attacks on locals by foreign nationals.
“These have taken the form of threats to use a knife, harassment of individual locals by groups of foreign nationals, and the use of verbal abuse against individual locals by groups of foreign nationals blocking the road at the exit to a shopping centre.
“Worryingly, in the light of events in Germany where rape became a problem, there have been unseemly comments being made to females by foreign nationals.
“I am concerned at police under-reaction to these events. I am aware they are trying to contain the situation and not escalate it. Even though this is a delicate issue, I believe the public need to be made aware of this problem and people generally need to appreciate that all racists are not locals but that racist behaviour is coming from migrant groups.”
PSNI Chief Inspector Davy Beck said: “All hate crime is a serious matter which will be the subject of a full and thorough investigation by police irrespective of who the perceived victim or perpetrator may be. This financial year to date we have seen a 33% reduction in reported hate crime across Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon District, which is a welcome indicator of community relations, however, I would appeal to the community to report any incidents or concerns to police as quickly as possible to permit an investigation to be commenced.”